Media Review for September 24, 2015

Burkina Faso’s Interim President Returns to Power, Week After Coup
The interim president of Burkina Faso, the target of a coup last week, returned to power on Wednesday, as West African leaders arrived here to finalize a resolution to the political crisis. The interim president, Michel Kafando, thanked other countries for condemning the coup, which was staged by allies of former President Blaise Compaoré, who was ousted in a mass uprising last October. “We are proud of the mobilization and fearlessness of the Burkinabé people, especially its youth, whose unwavering determination helped to stop the usurpation,” Mr. Kafando said. The situation here was notably calmer than in previous days. Daily life was slowly returning to normal; supermarkets, gas stations and shops have reopened. Soldiers who opposed the coup and who had entered the capital starting on Monday evening pulled back on Wednesday.  The New York Times

A Very Un-African Coup – How Peacebrokers Thwarted Carnage in Burkina Faso
[…] A tense 48 hours followed, with the rest of the army threatening to disarm the coup leaders by force if they didn’t surrender. But by Wednesday morning, Mr Kafondo was back in office again, and by Wednesday evening, General Diendere declared the whole thing over, describing it as “his biggest mistake”. So why has this come about? The answer may be that west Africa is finally losing its tolerance for coups and coupmongers, according to Paul Melly, an expert with the Africa Programme at London’s Chatham House international think-tank. Anyone who pulls this kind of stunt these days faces strong pushback from other west African leaders, he says. For they now realise that if they turn a blind eye to coups in neighbouring countries, they may well end up facing one themselves sooner or later.  The Telegraph

Burkina Faso Union Leader Blames Crisis on ECOWAS
The leader and chief negotiator of the Confederation of Labor Unions in Burkina Faso said the West African economic regional bloc Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is partly to blame for the political and military crisis in Burkina Faso. Bazie Bassolma told VOA Tuesday ECOWAS should not force the Burkinabe people to negotiate with the coup leaders, who he said have been characterized by the African Union as terrorists.  His comments came as West African leaders who met Tuesday in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, announced they are sending a new peace mission to Burkina Faso Wednesday. ECOWAS Commission President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo said one purpose of the new delegation is “to re-establish Michel Kafando” as transitional president. VOA

South Sudan Ceasefire: Fundamental Drivers Must be Addressed
[…] A tenuous ceasefire agreement was signed between the main factions in late August. While there is cautious optimism that the ceasefire will create a window for negotiation and stabilization, prospects for longer term stability are poor unless a number of underlying drivers to the conflict are addressed. Among others, these include: A weak South Sudanese national identity. While there was widespread and genuine enthusiasm at the creation of the new state in July 2011, a sense of elite competition for power and resources has undermined the leadership needed to build such a national identity. A political culture of private enrichment and patronage enabled from privileged access to natural resource revenues. This includes military and security leaders who have become politicized and, at times, are key actors in cornering resource flows in the economy. The provision of public goods and services for the general population has, consequently, been neglected. Perceptions of rampant corruption and impunity among leaders has undermined confidence in government. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Africans, Venezuela Oppose UN Action on Migrant Smugglers
A British-drafted resolution aimed at scaling up European military action against migrant smugglers off Libya’s coast has run into opposition from Venezuela and African countries at the UN Security Council, a senior diplomat said Wednesday. The measure would allow European forces to inspect and seize ships in international waters as part of efforts to stem the flow migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to reach Europe. Britain had hoped to put the draft resolution to a vote in the Security Council this week before world leaders arrive for the annual UN General Assembly gathering, but the senior diplomat said that was now uncertain.  AFP on GlobalPost

More than 20 Killed in NE Nigeria Market Bombing
More than 20 people were killed in a bomb attack in the garrison town of Monguno in remote northeast Nigeria, witnesses and the country’s main relief agency said on Wednesday. Ibrahim Abdulkadir, northeast coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said “between 25 and 28″ people were killed in Sunday night’s attack while locals said at least 21 lost their lives.  France 24

Nigerian Troops Capture Top Boko Haram Leader
The Nigerian Army captured one of the top commanders of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram on Wednesday, a military spokesperson said. Bulama Modu and 43 others were captured in an operation that resulted in the destruction of two “terrorist camps” at Janguoriri and Bulatori in north-eastern Nigeria, the spokesperson Sani Usman said. “The troops also rescued 241 women and children during the operation,” he said. Modu is a member of the highest decision-making body in Boko Haram, Usman said. An AK47, bows and arrows and a horse that had been given to Modu were confiscated by the military.  News 24

Moving Vehicles Banned in Northern Nigeria for Eid
The Nigerian military has temporarily banned all moving civilian vehicles – including bicycles, horses, donkeys and camels – in the northeastern Borno state to prevent armed groups from stepping up attacks during the Islamic Eid-al-Adha holiday. The ban, which excludes police vehicles and ambulances, follows a string of blasts that killed more than 100 people on Sunday in Maiduguri and Monguno in Borno state. “All movements using vehicles, bicycles and animals like horses, camels and donkeys in Maiduguri will be restricted from Wednesday 5pm (4pm GMT),” army spokesman Tukur Gusau said in a statement. “Similarly, all vehicular movements into and out of Maiduguri will also be restricted within the period until further notice.” Al Jazeera

Nigeria Bullish on Boko Haram but Fear of Attack Lingers
Nigeria on Wednesday claimed Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency was nearing an end, after the military said it had cleared rebel camps, rescued hundreds of women and children and arrested dozens of suspected militants. But apparent government and military confidence in counter-insurgency operations was off-set by nearly 140 deaths in a series of bomb attacks and fears of more civilian bloodshed over the Eid al-Adha holiday. President Muhammadu Buhari has given his new military high command until early November to end the rebellion, which has claimed at least 17,000 lives and made more than two million homeless since 2009.  AFP on Yahoo News

Egypt Frees Al-Jazeera Journalists Following Presidential Pardon
Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were on Wednesday released from prison following Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s pardon of 100 prisoners. “I’m feeling ecstatic knowing that I don’t have to worry about lawyers, police officers following me all over the place and knowing that I’m going to share my apartment tonight with my beloved wife,” Canadian journalist Fahmy told AFP after he and his Egyptian colleague Mohamed were released. The two were dropped off by authorities in the upmarket Cairo suburb of Maadi, not far from their former prison. France 24

Egypt Military Winds Down Campaign Against ISIS in Sinai
Egypt’s military announced on Wednesday it was winding down its largest campaign in the Sinai against Islamists, following a 16-day operation in which it said scores of Islamic State group jihadists were killed. The army said the campaign in the Sinai Peninsula had “achieved its goals” in destroying militant hideouts and equipment, in joint operations by special forces, armoured divisions and the air force. The next phase would see the military and police assert full control over the North Sinai towns of El-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, it said in a statement. In previous statements on the campaign, the military had announced having killed scores of militants and captured dozens.  News 24

Hollande, Sisi Agree on Sale of Mistral Warships to Egypt
French President Francois Hollande and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have agreed on the purchase by Egypt of the two French Mistral helicopter carriers whose planned sale to Russia was cancelled. “They agreed on the principle and the terms of the acquisition by Egypt of the two” Mistral warships, Hollande’s office said in a statement on Wednesday. France, whose navy already operates three of the Mistral helicopter carriers, has no use for the ships, whose sale to Russia was scrapped due to the Ukraine crisis. News 24

Ex-Bissau Military Chief Jailed over Plot Against President
A former head of Guinea-Bissau’s armed forces, held under house arrest for the past month, was transferred to a military prison on Wednesday over his suspected involvement in an aborted plot to kill President Jose Mario Vaz, his lawyer and police said. Rear Admiral Jose Zamora Induta, who headed the volatile West African nation’s military from 2009 until he was pushed out in 2010 by General Antonio Indjai, returned from exile in Portugal in July. Police sources said they had driven Induta to the Mansoa prison, around 50 km (30 miles) northeast of the capital, on the orders of a military tribunal in connection to the August plot and other crimes. Induta’s counsel confirmed the transfer.  Reuters

Banks Must Turn over Sudanese Assets to USS Cole Victims: U.S. court
Three banks must turn over Sudanese funds to victims of al Qaeda’s deadly 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen to help satisfy a $315 million judgment, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Wednesday. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected Sudan’s claim that the plaintiffs failed to follow proper procedures in seeking the assets, which are held in accounts controlled by Mashreqbank PSC, BNP Paribas SA and Credit Agricole SA. A lawyer for Sudan did not respond to a request for comment. The attack on Oct. 12, 2000, occurred in the Yemeni port of Aden, where the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole was refueling. The bombing killed 17 sailors and injured more than three dozen. The plaintiffs, 15 American sailors injured in the attack and three of their spouses, filed a 2010 lawsuit against Sudan in Washington, D.C., claiming the country provided material support to al Qaeda that helped facilitate the bombing. Reuters

Somalia’s Puntland Begins Search for Oil in Offshore Blocks
Puntland, a semi-autonomous region of northeastern Somalia, will conduct a survey of its offshore region to search for oil as the country prepares a licensing round for exploration, the head of the Puntland Petroleum and Minerals Agency said. The government awarded a contract this month to ION Geophysical Corp., based in Houston, Texas, to carry out the survey, Director-General Issa Farah said in an e-mailed response to questions. The company is expected to start work in the fourth quarter, he said. “We are looking to a licensing round,” Farah said. “We hope to inform the industry quite soon.” Puntland has avoided most of the violence carried out by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked group that’s waged an insurgency in Somalia since 2006. The United Nations warned last year that the search for oil in Puntland and neighboring Somaliland, another semi-autonomous area, may inflame territorial disputes in the two regions.  Bloomberg

Polish Citizens Killed in Somalia Presidential Palace attack
Somali police say that two Polish citizens were among the five people killed in a suicide car bombing at Somalia’s presidential palace in Mogadishu on Monday. The blast was claimed by the Islamic extremists of al-Shabab. It targeted Somali soldiers guarding the compound and a vehicle carrying foreign officials. Capt. Mohamed Hussein, a Somali police official, said two Polish citizens were among the three foreigners killed. He said police are still trying to determine the nationality of the third foreigner. Poland’s foreign ministry confirmed the death of one Polish citizen doing humanitarian and business work in Somalia.  AP on Stars and Stripes

Congo’s Longtime President Calls Referendum in Bid to Extend Rule
Congo Brazzaville’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso said Tuesday he was going ahead with a referendum on changes to the constitution that could allow him to extend his hold on power. “I decided to give the people a direct voice” on the bill, Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for 30 of the past 35 years, said in a statement on public radio and television, though he gave no dates for the vote. A commission, the composition of which is not yet known, must propose a new draft constitution before a date is chosen for the referendum.  France 24

Malawi’s President Appeals for International Food Aid
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has appealed for international help to cope with an expected food shortage that could affect 17 percent of the country’s population during the coming months. In his national address on the food situation on Monday, Mutharika said people in 25 of the country’s 28 districts are at risk of hunger. “Total of 2,833,212 people will not be able to meet their annual food requirement. In view of this I would like to appeal to all the development partners, other countries, and non-governmental organizations both in Malawi and elsewhere to complement government sources in assisting the food-insecure households,” said Mutharika. Mutharika said an updated national food assessment will be released in mid-October by the Malawi – Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC). VOA

Killing Kenya
Last December, an Al Jazeera network investigation examined shocking claims that the government of Kenya has been running secret police death squads, tasked with assassinating suspected terrorists and criminals. At the time the Kenyan government strongly refuted the allegations but reports and rumours in Kenya about extra-judicial killings have continued to proliferate. Ten months on, People and Power asked Mohammed Ali, one of Kenya’s top independent investigative journalists, to find out why.    In this deeply worrying film, Ali discovers that mysterious killings are indeed continuing amid a culture of apparent impunity, leaving Kenyan security forces open to suspicions that they are unaccountable and seemingly out of control. He discovers that over 1,500 Kenyan citizens have been killed by the police since 2009, and that statistically, Kenyans are currently five times more likely to be shot by a policeman than a criminal. Al Jazeera

Ebola-Hit Countries get Public Health Emergency Coordination Centers
In order to coordinate regional response to future public health emergencies, the United States has helped establish Emergency Operations Centres (EOC) in the three Ebola-hit West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The centers will serve as central coordination offices in the respective countries for response to an Ebola emergency or any other public health threat, said officials. The Sierra Leone EOC, hosted within the Military Headquarters in Freetown, was inaugurated on Wednesday at a special dedication ceremony. The severity of the 2014 Ebola epidemic, which began in Guinea and then spread to the rest of the region, has been blamed on lack of proper communications infrastructure, in addition to the existing deplorable health infrastructure in the region. In 2014, officials from Sierra Leone and the U.S. CDC identified the need to institute a public health emergency management system and establish a physical emergency operations centre (EOC) to coordinate Ebola response activities and future health emergencies. The East African

Uganda Opposition Coalition Collapses, as Joint Presidential Bid Fails
Uganda’s opposition coalition said Thursday it had failed to agree a joint presidential candidate to challenge veteran leader Yoweri Museveni. Related Stories Ugandan opposition aiming to name joint candidate for polls Associated Press Ugandan police fire teargas at supporters of President Museveni’s rival . The effective collapse of the coalition divides the opposition between competing candidates and means that Museveni — who has led the east African nation since 1986 and who was already widely expected to return to power — faces little challenge to another term. The Democratic Alliance (TDA) had been expected to select either Kizza Besigye, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party and a three-time challenger, or ex-prime minister Amama Mbabazi. Both men will now run against Museveni – and each other.  AFP on Yahoo News

Sustainable Development Goals Promise LIttle Respite for Indebted Poor Countries
In any evaluation of the pros and cons of the millennium development goals, the eighth – on developing a global partnership for development – is inevitably likely to receive the least attention. The idea behind goal eight was that rich countries would change policies to help the MDGs become a reality. The fact that little has happened is one reason why many of the goals will not have been met by the deadline at the end of this year. One of the targets under goal eight was to “deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries”. Some action has been taken. A debt relief scheme, the heavily indebted poor countries initiative created through the IMF and World Bank, has led to the cancellation of $130bn (£85bn) of debt across 36 countries. This has enabled a great improvement in the provision of some public services. In Mozambique, the proportion of children completing primary school fell in the 1990s as the country underwent structural adjustment imposed by the IMF and World Bank. Following debt cancellation, however, primary school completion increased from 15% of children in 1998 to 60% in 2009.  The Guardian

Do public Goods Have to be Public? Not in Some African Countries.
A recent cover story of The Economist highlights the proliferation of private education across the developing world. The article laments states’ failures to educate children decently, and finds private schools that cost as little as $1 a week are “burgeoning.” The article adds, “government should either help [these schools] or get out of their way.” But recent research suggests government failures alone don’t explain why public goods like schools are being privatized. What’s more, this research also finds there are serious political costs to having private groups provide public goods. Private schools are part of a larger trend across the world, in which more and more intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), faith-based organizations, multinational corporations, for-profit businesses, and community-based organizations deliver a range of services that we’re used to getting from the government. For millions of people across the world, health care, education and even basic security come not from their government but from one of these other groups. Political scientists call this the “nonstate provision of goods and services.”  The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones